Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayaka told Parliament yesterday that the representatives of the Government Medical Officers’ Association (GMOA) during a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa had agreed to allow the Allied Health Sciences (AHS) undergraduates to have a four year degree programme.
Minister Dissanayake said that the agreement had been reached at a special meeting chaired by the President and attended by the representatives of the GMOA, Ministries of Health and Higher Education.
He said that the agreement had provided a solution to a crisis situation owing to an agitation staged by the Allied Health Sciences undergraduates, demanding that their degree programme should be four years.
The minister said this in response to a series of questions raised by UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe, making a special statement in Parliament over the issue of allied health sciences students’ protests.
Minister said it had been agreed at the meeting to allow the AHS students to complete their degree programmes either in four years or three years or three and a half years after obtaining 120 credits. Those who could got 120 credits in three years could graduate one year earlier than those who wished to do so in four year time duration, the minister said. "This could be called a victory for the Allied Health Sciences undergraduates. In foreign universities, too, the students are allowed to complete their degree programmes in two or three years though their duration is over three years."
UNP and Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe yesterday accused Higher Education Minister S.B. Dissanayake of having misled Parliament by informing the House that the crisis pertaining to Allied Health Sciences student had been sorted out by the President.
Wickremesinghe addressing a press conference attended by a group of Allied Health Sciences students at the Parliament complex said the Minister early yesterday had told the House that problems with regard to the AHS degree programme had been solved. "This is not true. The minister said that the issue had been solved during a meeting with the Government Medical Officers’ Association. The meeting was not attended by the students. So, the issue has not been sorted out contrary to the minister’s claim."
The undergraduates made a request to the Opposition Leader to work for the safeguarding of the AHS degree programmes introduced by a UNP government.
Wickremesinghe said: "The government does not seriously address this problem. It has passed the buck and shirked its responsibilities by the aggrieved undergraduates’ protests reached the 164th day. Once it was the problem of the Ministry of Higher education. Then suddenly the buck was passed to the court of the Ministry of Health. Thereafter, the blame has been put at the doorstep of the GMOA. Now the President has got involved to sort this out. Now, the ball is in the right court. All you students have to do is to crank up pressure until your problems are solved."
Wickremesinghe instructed students to work closely with UNP MPs Ajith P Perera and Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, who, too, were present on the occasion, to decide their future courses of action.
Source – island newspaper